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Catholic Relief Services


Karl Lowe, Chief Information Officer


Catholic Relief Services


International Development

Business Challenge

The poor walk a lot, and analytics should help them walk less. The poor walk to attend trainings, farmer demonstrations, participatory mapping, project meetings, go to clinics, access water at wells, and more. Development practitioners need to locate program activities in places that reduce walk times so that the poorest of the poor participate. However, this is not easily done by just looking at a map.

Analytics Solution

A spatial analysis process that used terrain and river crossings, together with estimated walking times determined locations of project activities. This process allowed Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to set maximum walk time cut-offs. The process is complicated and requires an understanding of GIS.


This approach helped CRS relocate activities and has improved program participation in Madagascar for women and young children receiving food distribution by 30 percent. This process has been similarly replicated in Ethiopia with positive results. CRS wants this process to be simple so that it can go to scale across the development community. As a result, CRS is working with a company to make this into a simple web map process that everyone can benefit from.